Some Irish voters have been to the polls twice today, as the Government needs their vote for both the presidential election and the referendum on blasphemy. Early statistics show turnout to be low.
An Irish President is elected for seven years, and can only stand for two terms. This role is mostly ceremonial since most powers are owned by the Prime Minister. Six candidates are running: two women and four men; aged 51-77.
Concerning the ‘blasphemy’ referendum, it concerns profane talk: when a person speaks in an abusive way about a religion. The current Irish Constitution condemns blasphemy with a fine up to 25,000 euros. This referendum could change this. ‘Blasphemy’ would be removed from the Constitution if Irish voters say ‘Yes’. The last prosecution for blasphemy, however, happened in the XIXth century.
Another referendum about the constitution happened in May: the 8th amendment claims “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, and with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” Although Irish people mainly voted pro-choice (pro-abortion), abortion is still illegal 5 months after. A new change in the presidency could delay this extremely long process.
Results for both the referendum and the election will come in from 10pm.